Wednesday, January 08, 2014
The auto industry is undergoing major change in messages and themes. It is less power and styling and more technological, presaging the debut of the self-aware transportation machine. This will require a shift in thinking among auto publicists trained in the time-honored news pegs of the business. Technology has been slowly weaving its way into vehicles through computer-controlled engines and GPS dashboards, but the idea that the auto will become an entertainment and information center for the family is still new. The idea that the auto will largely drive and park itself also is new. The pleasures of holding the wheel will subside in favor of what can be done during transportation. Warnings against texting, phoning and driving will go away when the car is alert to conditions around it and maintaining both its place and speed on the road. This technology has been a long time coming. In decades past, there were numerous futuristic attempts to take drivers out of driving. None worked well, but we are on the cusp today. Driverless vehicles roam the streets and highways of California, Nevada and other states. There are moves afoot to figure out the legalities of driverless cars and elements of the technologies are being installed into vehicles year by year. The auto publicist is becoming an extension of Silicon Valley and mature practitioners might not recognize the industry in which they spent their careers.